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#1000287 - 12/17/08 07:52 PM Epic crash in recital  
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verania5 Offline
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I was nervous but getting along okay (Brahms Intermezzo Op 118/2) until I suffered a complete mental lapse and playing came to a screeching halt 10 measures before the end and I could not pick it up from where I left off. I fumbled a few more measures and then hastily beat a retreat. The audience was understanding but it was very disappointing.

I think my brain shut down after the most difficult part of the piece came and went. For some reason my brain produces "chatter" during recitals that distracts me from the moment and the music. It is as if I am thinking in the third person, giving critiques and fretting about the next passage.

Any ideas of how to "focus" one's mind during recitals?


Steinway M & Yamaha P120
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#1000288 - 12/17/08 07:58 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Hi, I don't have any personal advice as this happens to me all the time. The book "The Inner Game of Music" addresses these voices and is recommended by many. I found that putting a 'name' to the voice just made it more apparent... that's just me...

I am looking forward to the responses...


It's the journey not the destination..
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#1000289 - 12/17/08 08:03 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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verania5 Offline
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Thanks Sandy, I'll look into that book.
It is so strange because these "voices" only appear at recitals. It never happens during practice or lessons.

I hope I'm not schizophrenic after all...


Steinway M & Yamaha P120
#1000290 - 12/17/08 08:21 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Ivory Dreams Offline
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IT'S THOSE DARN GREMLINS!
mad mad mad
Sneaky little boogers..... aren't they?


It is rare that I get to play for others, .... but I have friends that play guitar and banjo professionally. (As in.... almost every night, here and there... but mostly in Nashville.) The advice one of them gave me, seems to fit any instrument.

Practice picking up and beginning the piece you are presenting from each measure. Randomly practice beginning from one measure playing thru and then start on another measure and play thru.

Then.... when you make a flub, or an outside force causes you to be totally flabbergasted.... You will know where you are and will have no difficulty continuing from there.

wink


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You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.
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#1000291 - 12/17/08 08:30 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Quote
Originally posted by verania5:

Any ideas of how to "focus" one's mind during recitals?
-Eat a banana before you perform. Mentally it's a big boost of confidence, and physically too because bananas will relax you and calm you down.
-Know your piece inside and out. Learn about it's history, the composer, meanings of everything surrounding it.
-Really concentrate on the sound and opening of your piece before you step on stage.

Matt

#1000292 - 12/17/08 10:00 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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The one thing I would suggest is attempting to play in public more often. Stage fright probably never leaves anyone permanently, but the more frequently you play in front of an audience, the less likely that its effects will manifest themselves in your playing.

I say that from experience. My first recital was last year in the spring, and I found it mortifying. I was playing some pieces that I knew REALLY well and had been playing for a while (Anna Magdalena Bach pieces and an arrangement of Debussy's Reverie)...and I blew it. I had to start and stop in the middle of the pieces, and I got increasingly frustrated as I went on.
Although I haven't been in an official recital since, I HAVE had the ability to play in public a bit more often...for friends at school, for family parties, etc. And each time, it's gotten a lot easier!

So, those are my three cents. I'm no expert, but from personal experience, I'd say that the more you try and take advantage of public playing opportunities, the better you will become.


Do or do not, there is no try.

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#1000293 - 12/17/08 10:10 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoluvr:
The one thing I would suggest is attempting to play in public more often. Stage fright probably never leaves anyone permanently, but the more frequently you play in front of an audience, the less likely that its effects will manifest themselves in your playing.
+1.

And practice the method of successive approximations... play a recital piece to and by yourself. Then play it in front of an "audience" of a stuffed animal or two. Then play it with a small child or loved one off doing something in a different room in the same house. Then doing something in the same room. etc. etc. Gradually build yourself up to more challenging audience situations. That will make the real thing much easier than going from only playing by oneself to sitting in front of a huge audience on recital night.

Although I'm sure you're feeling disappointed, please remember that your audience won't care (and probably couldn't even tell you about) the ten measures you left off, but they enjoyed all the other measures you got right. thumb


Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica
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#1000294 - 12/17/08 10:32 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Matt,

I think you would need to eat, oh, maybe six of them to get much therapeutic effect. But if you DID eat six of them you would suffer from other difficulties. wink


Verania,

You ask the perennial question that most of us cannot even begin to answer. I perform in public so seldom that I cannot remember from time to time what I do. Well, I'm doing it again this Sunday as part of a trio, so I had better figure something out!

Actually, the answer -- or at least part of the answer -- is to know your piece thoroughly. Sounds trite, I know. But simple it is not ...to paraphrase Yoda. laugh

Know your piece structurally (having analyzed it). If you know the chord structure and the progressions, you will be much less likely to crash. Know the piece on the page if you're using music. That, I think, is often overlooked. Your eye usually bounces between the keys and the music, and you need to know exactly which passages in the music demand your eye to do them right, and which do not. I find I often have to plan this out. Letting it happen by itself can cause derailments.

I think that if one does these things, then concentration during the actual event probably becomes much easier.

#1000295 - 12/17/08 10:51 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I will try to get more mock rehearsals in before my next recital. Many great suggestions. Thanks! I've never analyzed my piece systematically as Piano Dad has suggested. I'll talk to my teacher about it. It could help occupy my mind and stave off the nerves if I have something to think about during recitals.


Steinway M & Yamaha P120
#1000296 - 12/18/08 06:33 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Also recording your whole piece is good. Puts you under a little bit of pressure, and lets you know where you are likely to flub -- in case you don't know it already smile

#1000297 - 12/18/08 10:27 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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This only happens to me when the people listening know the music. I feel like I'm being judged in that case. When the listeners are unfamiliar with the music, it's just between me and the keyboard.

#1000298 - 12/18/08 11:23 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Quote
Originally posted by verania5:
For some reason my brain produces "chatter" during recitals that distracts me from the moment and the music. It is as if I am thinking in the third person, giving critiques and fretting about the next passage.
I have not played for an audience yet, other than my daughter and teacher, and I have no advice.

I just wanted to say, what an awesome description!!
That is exactly what happens to me when I record, but never could quite put it into words.

#1000299 - 12/18/08 11:43 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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As a kid, for my one and only recital- I had some comic relief prepared in advance.. If I got stuck the plan was to start playing 'Camptown Races', you know "The Camptown racetrack's five miles long. Oh, de doo-da day" and then I had a re-entry point just after the hard part... didn't have to use it, but now i wish i would have..


-cheers!!!
#1000300 - 12/18/08 11:56 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I second the advice above to try and play in public more often, especially for strangers

It's not necessarily easy to do, but I found a good way is to go to a local music store, for example Guitar Center or Best Buy and just play while folks are walking around.
Don't expect compliments, or even for people to pay attention. But can you play with the volume up?

Knowing the piece inside out, starting from any measure, is obviously key.

take care

#1000301 - 12/18/08 11:58 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I have the chatter in my head too.

This may not work for you, but does help me. I
place a television in the room and have it playing in my line of sight. I guess learning to ignore the distraction is what helps.

I played in front of hundreds of people when I was younger (well into my late teens) and never gave it a thought. Now, an audience of 1 can almost overwhelm me even when I know they don't play at all and probably don't even recognize it when I do make a minor mistake.

Mike White mentioned the feeling of being judged when we are playing and that is exactly what I feel. I freeze up, backtrack and correct but a kid just grimaces and goes on.


David



#1000302 - 12/18/08 01:34 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Along with all the good suggestions above, you might try starting on different measures as you practice. For example, play the last measure, then the last two, then the last three, etc. (Variation: work backwards through the piece playing two or three measure chunks.)


Your intermezzo is a lovely piece, by the way.

#1000303 - 12/18/08 02:47 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I think the worst part of crashing at a recital isn't so much the (perceived, audiences are so forgiving) embarassment, it's the fact that you are so disappointed in yourself. You know you can do it, and you let those 'voices' get in the way of a prepared performance. Death to the 'voices!'


Collector of sheet music I can't play.
#1000304 - 12/18/08 03:30 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I am disappointed most by the fact that the beautiful and almost spiritual Intermezzo was interrupted by my ill-timed crash. The audience got short changed, and so did I.


Steinway M & Yamaha P120
#1000305 - 12/18/08 04:45 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Don't be too hard on yourself.

You might want to check this book out. It's called The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green
I seem to be recommending this book a lot.
It deals with exactly what you are talking about-the inner dialogue that goes on while you are trying to concentrate on your performance.


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1000306 - 12/18/08 08:04 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I guess this thread made me think..

--> do i want and need others to validate my progress and/or talents ???

Would people even create art or music to go unseen or unheard.. or posts on a forum?

maybe i should stop thinking so much..


-cheers!!!
#1000307 - 12/18/08 08:09 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Quote
Originally posted by verania5:
I am disappointed most by the fact that the beautiful and almost spiritual Intermezzo was interrupted by my ill-timed crash. The audience got short changed, and so did I.
I don't think this is a bad way to look at it. You understand music as a communication art and you seem unafraid to acknowledge that you fell short. This isn't some self-esteem-boosting self-deception. You understand what went wrong and you are objective enough to face it and to want to do something about it. That's healthy. Bravo! Even more so if you are willing to get right back in the saddle to work on presentation skills.

#1000308 - 12/18/08 11:28 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Very much agree with piano*dad. I think it's a positive way to look at your recital experience as one where you fell short in delivering a musical experience to the AUDIENCE. Especially in comparison to, "Man, I made such a fool of myself" or "I can never show my face in piano-playing public again" or whatnot. I tended to take these latter approaches to my first recital experience, and it actually put me off piano for a little while. frown

I also like the suggestion above that you try recording yourself, particularly if you don't have as many opportunities to hear yourself play. And this actually has one other benefit...You can take out the recording a month or so later and hear how much better you are!


Do or do not, there is no try.

CURRENT PIECES
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Fur Elise
Chopin Waltz Op.69 No.2
Chopin Nocturne Op.9 No.2
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#1000309 - 12/19/08 10:31 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I'm relatively new to the piano but have discovered that I don't perform well in front of others. Pieces I can play fluidly alone tend to sound terrible and uneasy in front of others. "Brain shut down" to use verania's words. The same happens when I *imagine* playing for others or when I record my own perforance.

Due to this shortcoming I try to play a mental game when a piece is relatively well mastered: I imagine playing in front of people so I can get used to the feel. A lot of athletes do the same in order to perform well in competition. Recording yourself is good mental traing too, I believe. As others have said - putting yourself in a situation (or a similar situation) often will enable you to master it better and maybe even like it after a while. If you don't have the opportuninty to regularly perform in front of others this mental game could be of great help.

#1000310 - 12/19/08 10:52 AM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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Quote
Originally posted by gaffster:

maybe i should stop thinking so much..
I really think that is the key. Don't think, just do. Easier said than done.


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1000311 - 12/19/08 02:31 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I think it might also be to your benefit to play an additional piece in your recitals. It could be a shorter and less technically difficult piece - it would be a good way to "test the waters" and warm you up for the big one.

I'm not sure if anybody mentioned this, but it is always important to say that your mistakes aren't as bad as you make them out to be. Probably at least 90% of the time, the audience does not know that you made a mistake unless you explicitly stop to try to correct it. So maybe your "epic crash" really is more like a "bump". Give yourself a little more credit!


Kawai K-3 (2008)
#1000312 - 12/19/08 03:08 PM Re: Epic crash in recital  
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I like the idea of starting to play a piece at different points in it. I usually have 3 or 4 spots in a piece where I know I can just pick up and go on if I have a memory slip.


On the piano stand:
Widmung
Partita in c minor
Jardins sous la pluie

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